The Energy Industry, Technology Sector and Abu Dhabi
There has been much talk about Abu Dhabi's faliure to diversify itself from oil into other fields. While the UAE only depends on oil for 1/3rd of its GDP, Abu Dhabi depends on it for about 90% of its GDP and export earnings. With oil reaching $100 per barrel, people and buisnesses are learning to be more rational with their oil use. I personally expect a correction in oil prices sometime soon, as nothing but speculation seems to be driving them up. I think we will see a sharper correction than we expect.
But while we are making all of this money, wouldnt it be useful to actually spend it on something that would assist the country in the long term ? While Dubai has diversified into tourism, financial services and regional logistics, Abu Dhabi has the choice to take a different route in order to improve its future outlook.
The first in my opinion should be in dominating the future Energy sector. In this part of the world, we have more sun than we can handle. And with the world unlikely to cool off in the future, Solar power is the only viable, non exaustible long term energy source in the world. Ethanol is driving food prices up, Geothermal is too difficult to extract, Coal is too messy, and all other suggestions either cost too much or generate too few electricity. So in my opinion the only viable future energy source is solar energy. We need to dominate the solar energy sector, by pioneering research, setting up some world class companies and supporting SME's operating in this field.
The second should be in dominating the desalinization sector. The supply of water will be one of the biggest challenges the world will have to face in the future. We have grown from partially dependent, to dependent, and will grow fully dependent on desalinized water in order to fufill our daily water needs. I expect the same will be true of the rest of the world in the future.
The third will be to better adjust our capabilities in the oil sector. We need to train alot of Engineers and Geologists to be able to produce more oil in the future. We need to stop relying on foreign companies who charge extortionist rates for simple pieces of equipment.
In order to accomplish these three goals, we will need to embark on a massive educational and research drive to be able to develop the nessecary technology. Firstly we begin by bringing in highly qualified researchers from all over the world, giving them citizenship, housing and good salaries. These researchers will form the backbone of what should be the largest and most advanced educational system in the world. We choose as many highly qualified teachers as we can get. We then hand-pick extremely talented students from all around the world, put them through school and then university. Then you have them work on site as researchers and instructors. Im talking about an entire self-sufficent educational zone, from kindergarten to university level, that could possibly finance itself in the future through partnerships with the private sector. That would give massive funding for daring, intelligent and qualified researchers to produce more papers and research than the entire arab world put togehter.
If we can create a research, technology and industrial hub in Abu Dhabi, we might be able to find a new role for the city after the end of the oil era.